3 Ways to Operate a More Data-Driven Marketing Program

data-driven marketing programIt’s no secret: The B2B content landscape is more crowded than ever before. And, as a result, today’s B2B buyers are faced with many different buying options. While this undoubtedly makes for an ideal buying situation, it makes the job of a marketer significantly more difficult.

Enter data-driven marketing

What is Data-Driven Marketing?

If you’ve worked in marketing over the last few years, you’re likely familiar with the concept of data-driven marketing. But, just in case, we’ll give you a brief refresher. In essence, data-driven marketing is a strategy in which all aspects of a campaign-from channel to content- are designed and developed using insights garnered from data analysis.

In its simplest form, this process involves systematically extracting inferences from data sets to uncover trends and create opportunities that expand marketing effectiveness. As a result, marketers are able to remove the guesswork from marketing and serve their prospects and customers more personalized content experiences.

Data-Driven Marketing in 2018

In 2018, data-driven marketing is no longer just a buzzword– but rather, a must-have for B2B marketing success. The reason for this is simple: When executed effectively, data-driven marketing programs can have a significant impact on your organization’s most vital objectives. Consider the following statistics:

  • 78% of organizations say data-driven marketing increases lead conversion and customer acquisition (source)
  • 64% of marketing executives “strongly agree” that data-driven marketing is crucial to success in a hypercompetitive global economy (source)
  • 66% of marketing leaders have seen an increase in new customers as a result of data-driven initiatives (source)

Although data-driven marketing is an easy concept to understand, it’s slightly more complicated to put into practice. In fact, according to one recent survey, only one-third of marketers responding characterized their data-driven marketing strategies as “very successful.” (source)

In an attempt to remedy this statistic,  we’re sharing a few ways to improve your data-driven marketing strategy. Keep reading!

1.    Prioritize data-management

If there is one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: There is no factor more crucial to successful data-driven programs than the quality and integrity of the data that runs it.

While this may seem like an obvious point, it’s one of the biggest obstacles for marketers to overcome. According to one recent survey, 64% of “most successful” data-driven marketers, reported improving data quality as the most significant roadblock to data-driven marketing (source).

Unfortunately, managing data quality is tougher than it sounds-simply because B2B data decays so rapidly. Hint here: B2B contact data decays at an annualized rate of 22.5 percent a year (source). When left unchecked, data decay can not only wreak havoc on your data-driven marketing but can also take a drastic toll on your company’s bottom line. Consider these statistics (source):

  • 62% of organizations rely on marketing data that’s up to 40% inaccurate
  • Up to 25% of B2B database contacts contain critical errors
  • 40% of business objectives fail due to inaccurate data
  • It costs $1 to verify a record as it’s entered, $10 to scrub and cleanse it later, and $100 if nothing is done.

Here are our top tips for optimal database health:

Perform a Database Audit:

The first step towards proper data management is to perform an audit on your existing contact database to uncover inaccuracies, errors, and missing information. Although it’s possible to do this manually, many companies find this process to be time-consuming and prone to human error.

Instead, we recommend partnering with a market intelligence solution to do the heavy lifting. Most data service providers can fill in missing information, correct errors, and improve the overall accuracy of your data.

Evaluate and improve data collection processes:

Your data will never be perfect, but there are steps you can take to drastically improve data collection methods. Do you use web forms to collect your data? Mass uploads? Or do you rely on manual data entry?

Consider how you access contact information and work to streamline these systems. Eliminate unnecessary form fields, relabel anything that seems confusing, and use form validation to acquire certain data points. 

Prioritize technologies that integrate:

Like most B2B businesses, you probably collect and generate a large amount of valuable data through an array of channels and departments – from marketing automation to CRM, to customer support technologies. Unsurprisingly, this can result in fragmented, irregular customer data, stored in a number of disparate data silos.

When data is kept separate, it’s difficult to develop a single, cohesive view of buyers. Thus, limiting their ability to provide consistent, meaningful, and thoughtful customer experiences across all touchpoints.

Embrace ongoing, automated data maintenance:

In an environment where data is currency, quality is key. As SiriusDecisions put it, “Organizations must shift their focus from one-time data cleansing to ongoing data maintenance to turn the tide.”

Thankfully, recent technological advancements have made it easier than ever to prioritize ongoing data hygiene and automate this process. Now, with the click of a button, and the help of a data provider, your database can be cleaned, appended, and normalized on a set schedule.

2.    Facilitate Sales and Marketing Alignment:

To achieve true success, data-driven marketing must be thought of as a company-wide approach that requires collaboration and input from all areas of an organization– especially from your sales team.

By now, you are probably aware of the many benefits of sales and marketing alignment. If not, here’s a hint: B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth, and 27% faster three-year profit growth (source). Despite this, few organizations report tight alignment between these two core teams.

Here are a few tips to facilitate better alignment.

Keep communication lines open:

Consider holding regular meetings with department leaders to discuss goals, analyze results, and in general, to keep everyone on the same page.

Operate under the same goals and metrics:

If your sales and marketing teams are working toward separate goals, they are less likely to be engaged with one another. A common goal gives the two departments motivation to work together.

Integrate tools and technologies:

If the tools and technologies you use don’t interact seamlessly with one another, you’ll never achieve alignment.

Establish lead scoring guidelines:

It’s an argument as old as time: Marketing feels like sales is ignoring their leads. And, sales is frustrated that marketing continues to provide them with unqualified leads. The solution?  Lead scoring—a system in which each lead or prospect gets a point value based on specific criteria for the purpose of prioritizing leads and improving outreach. By analyzing data, you can decide which data points indicate the likelihood of a purchase and assign them a higher point value.

3.    Allow buyer-personas to guide decision making

The premise of a good data-driven marketing strategy revolves around your understanding of your prospects and customers.  What problems do your customers face? How does your product make their life easier? What leads them to make a purchase? Where do they live? How old are they? What is their job title? What kind of company do they work for? The list goes on.

The key to answering these questions lies within your customer data. Take the time to compile and analyze the data within your CRM, your Google Analytics account, your corporate social media profiles, and anywhere else you interact with customers and prospects. You can collect this data manually, but we recommend you work with a third-party data analysis tool if you’re not sure where to start.

Once you have identified important trends, it’s time to create detailed profiles of your best prospects and customers. These are your buyer personas.

Buyer personas should inform every aspect of your business. This includes everything from the language you use in your campaigns to the channels you use to provide customer support.

Key Takeaways about Data-Driven Marketing

A marketer’s job is never truly done. If you’re planning to adopt a data-driven strategy, you’re by default committing to continually revisit and test your theories. Start by creating a baseline against which you can benchmark conversion rates for all new marketing activities. While it’s important to understand internal achievements, you also need to see how your work compares to industry benchmarks. Meet with your team regularly to go through the data on both a granular and trend level.